Results tagged ‘ Michael Schwimer ’

Lehigh Valley Train Keeps Rolling as Phillies Finally Win a Game

Falling behind fast in the NL East, the Phillies were more than due for a team shake up which began on Thursday.  Over the course of almost 3 days here is who is in and who is out:

COMING IN FROM LEHIGH VALLEY:

LHP Jake Diekman, 25 years old (no major league experience), LHP Raul Valdes, 34 years old (2 years in majors, 6 in minors), Third baseman Hector Luna, 32 years old (parts of 7 years in majors out of 11 years total), 2nd and 3rd baseman Mike Fontenot, 31 years old (6th season in majors out of 8).

OUTTA HERE:

LHP Joe Savery (to Lehigh Valley), RHP Michael Schwimer (to Lehigh Valley when Cliff Lee came off the DL), RHP Brian Sanches (to Lehigh Valley), Catcher Erik Kratz (to Lehigh Valley), Outfielder Laynce Nix (to the 15-day DL with a strained left calf), Oufielder Scott Podsednik (to the Boston Red Sox for cash).

Is your head spinning yet?  Here is an analogy for you: Remember years ago when people joked that McDonalds chicken McNuggets were “pieces parts?”  You had no idea if you ate one what exact part or grade of chicken you might be getting.  That is now the Philadelphia Phillies.  They are going to toss out onto the field some “pieces parts” and see what happens.  Just call them the “McPhillies.”

Last night’s version of the McPhillies actually tasted ok.  Thanks to 3-RBI nights and home runs from both Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr., things worked out well and ended in a 7-3 win.  Freddy Galvis added an RBI as well with a double in the 6th inning.

It appears that Galvis is getting a little better at the plate everyday, which is great news.  And Mayberry has a 4-game hitting streak going, which means maybe he is out of the slump.  That would be huge for this team because Mayberry can add some real power if he keeps going well.

Vance Worley had a quality start with 3 runs allowed in 6 innings.  So the bullpen was going to have to hold the Padres to those 3 runs, which they have been unable to do in many games now.  But magically, both Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls decided they like their jobs and pitched pretty well.  I say magic, but perhaps it was the oncoming lights of the Lehigh Valley train that inspired them?

Whatever it was, it’s a win and we’ll take it.  Can the new McPhillies pull off 2 wins in a row?  We shall see…game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Hitting Rock Bottom

You may have thought that the Phillies hit rock bottom days ago.  It was hard to imagine things getting much worse.  And yet, it did get worse.  After getting swept in 3 games by the Mets yesterday, I think we can officially say, here it is; rock bottom.

And it is not because they were swept by the Mets that this is rock bottom.  It is because of the manner in which they were beaten, or slaughtered, if you prefer a stronger term.  Murphy’s Law even entered the equation last night.  Anything that could go wrong did.

Through the first six innings, we saw a glimmer of hope.  The offense was hitting, Cliff Lee was pitching well in his first start off the DL; he even collected an RBI for himself.  But not wanting to push Lee too hard in his return, he was pulled after 6 innings.  From the time the 7th inning began, it was clear that the Phillies bullpen would pull out all the stops to LOSE the game.

Let me begin by saying I have never been impressed with Kyle Kendrick as a pitcher.  I am sure he is a fine human being, but his pitching usually leaves a lot to be desired.  He is inconsistent, he gets rattled easily and he wanders about with that awful, sad puppy look on his face.

And last night, he managed to impose the sad puppy face upon every Phillies fan watching the game.  With a 4-2 lead to start the inning, before he recorded a single out, Kendrick gave up a double, 2 walks and then hit the 4th batter to force in a run.  By the time the inning ended, the Mets had 3 more runs and a 5-4 lead.

But Kendrick was not done yet.  He gave up 2 more runs in the 8th without recording an out.  Jose Contreras helped him out and added a run of his own.  Then Brian Sanches gave up a solo homer in the ninth.  That is 8 runs out of the bullpen, 7 of them earned runs, which led to an embarrassing 10-6 loss.

The defense added to the humiliation as Shane Victorino dove for a ball which wound up flying right by him.  And Hunter Pence dropped an easy fly ball that was right in his glove.

Manager Charlie Manuel was so disgusted after the game, he finally ripped into the team.  Manuel said they needed to play better and prepare better.  The preparation bit is what was alarming.  Are these guys just strolling into the ballpark without getting ready physically and mentally?  That sure is what it seems like.

That would also confirm my theory that this team is not focused and an overall sense of complacency has set in.  Complacency or apathy could be occurring for a variety of reason including past success, arrogance about one’s abilities, off-field distractions, making a ton of money and the fact that many of these guys have already won the big prize.

While I would hate to think that about this Phillies team, the reality is that all of those factors may be playing a part.  As an example, you know who is the opposite of complacent?  A guy like Freddy Galvis, who is working his behind off.  Galvis was a homer short of the cycle last night, plus his defense and intensity are off the charts.  Why?  Because he has something to prove.  He is trying to stick in the majors, make a good impression and someday, get his payday.

Look around this team.  Are there guys who look a bit less focused than others?  You know how they say hitting is contagious?  Well, so is complacency.

I would say a number of changes are coming this team’s way in the very near future.  They have already sent reliever Joe Savery back to the minors.  Michael Schwimer went as well.  Here is what I think they should do:  If someone is not doing their job, like the entire bullpen, for instance, then bring in someone who will get it done or at least give you a complete effort.

I do not care if they stock this team full of rookies.  Because if they are going to suck, I’d rather see players out there who are giving it 100% and living up to their potential.  This team has spent way too much money on talented players to be this bad.  They need a shake up…fast.

Thursday is an off-day, which many of the players will spend at a Chase Utley charity event this evening.  But on Friday, the Padres come to town and they need to be ready.  Cross your fingers…

 

 

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Player photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Dead Last

I am not sure which word in my article title is more disturbing; “dead” or “last.”  If you haven’t looked at the NL East standings lately, take a moment to prepare yourself for the worst.  The Phillies are dead last and the only team in the division that is playing under .500 baseball.

At the start of the year, we all figured they might snap out of it but that is just not happening.  They just plain suck.  And that fact was no more evident than last night against the Mets in a 7-4 loss after leading by 4 runs at the start of the game.

Here is what we have learned about this Phillies team recently:  They cannot hold a lead.  The bullpen stinks.  The offense is schizophrenic; you never know what might happen next.  Wikipedia defines schizophrenia as “…disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.”  That about sums it up.

The Phillies took a quick 4-run lead in this game, thanks in part to a Hunter Pence 2-run homer.  John Mayberry Jr. had 2 hits and is starting to find his swing.  But that is where the good new ends.

Joe Blanton left the game with 2 outs in the 7th inning and 2 runners on base.  Then Chad Qualls punched him in the gut by allowing both runs to score.  Adding to the disaster, Pete Orr botched a play at second base, which led to the Mets to taking a 5-4 lead.

Late in games, a one run deficit seems almost impossible to overcome for this team.  So as if that were not bad enough, reliever Michael Schwimer added 2 more Mets runs in the 8th.  That was the nail in the coffin.

You could not even change channels last night for some relief. The Flyers lost and were ousted from the playoffs.  The Sixers lost and have to play again on Thursday.  There was no escape…it was a very bad day for Philly sports.

But the drama continues tonight as the Phillies will attempt to salvage one lousy game from the lousy Mets.  Ugh.  Cliff Lee will come off the DL and pitch starting at 7:05pm…he is our only hope for a win :O(

 

 

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Umpires Rob Phillies of a Run Who Lose In 11 Innings

When the umpires become the big story of a game, something is very wrong.  But that is what happened in tonight’s Phillies – Nationals game starting immediately in the first inning of an eventual 4-3 Phils loss.

With the Nats 19-year old newbie at the plate in the 1st, the home plate ump gave him a walk on a check swing that was not a check swing.  Even without replay, you could see that Bryce Harper’s bat did cross the plate.

Understandably, Charlie Manuel was upset.  Because not only was the strike obvious, but there was NO umpire at third to call it due to Joe West being ill.  As a result, the remaining 3 umpires were on the defensive right away.  Manuel had barely yelled a few words from the dugout when the home plate umpire tossed him from the game without hesitation.

So the Phillies lost their manager in the 1st inning and the umpire disgrace rolled further downhill after that.  With Shane Victorino on 2nd base in the 7th, Carlos Ruiz smashed a ball right over the 3rd base bag that should have been an RBI double.  But again, with NO umpire at third, it was ruled a foul ball.  Seconds later, Victorino stole 3rd base and was called out even though he was never tagged.  Remember, there was NO umpire to see this so I guess they just tossed a coin.

Ruiz singled right after that, but no run scored because Victorino had been called out erroneously.  Essentially, the umpires robbed the Phillies of the same run twice!

With 3 huge blown calls, the manager ejected and an RBI taken away from the Phillies, the umpires were not done yet.  Because during the next 1/2 inning, the idiot who called Victorino out was seen vehemently defending himself to Victorino as he ran out to center field.  He actually appeared to be yelling at Victorino as he waved his hands around for emphasis.  Seriously?  YOU blow a bunch of calls and have the nerve to yell at the player?  Disgusting.

Calls started going against the Nationals too, although not game-changing.  With the exact same situation as the 1st inning and Harper at bat again, he was called out on a check swing in the 7th.  This time, he actually did not swing.

My question is this:  WHY can MLB not afford an extra umpire for when this happens again?  If someone gets sick, you have a replacement.  If not, he can sit in the booth and HELP by watching replays on close calls.  Give the umpires earpieces or radios and have the 5th ump call down with the correct call.

Because isn’t the most important thing to get the call right?  Or does MLB think catering to umpire egos is more important?  And if they don’t like the 5th umpire idea, then you HAVE to allow replay.  Blown calls should NOT be affecting the outcome of a game in the modern era.  Was no one paying attention when Jim Joyce cost a kid a perfect game with a blown call?

I hope these idiot umpires go back and watch film of this game and see everything they screwed up.  But I guarantee you this; none of them will feel anywhere near as badly as Joyce did after his blown call.  That man at least had the class and humanity to admit his mistake.  But aside from Joyce, when no one is held accountable for their actions, this will never change.

Granted, you cannot put all the blame for this loss on the umpires.  The Phillies offense squandered chances.  But they should have had a 4-3 lead going into the 8th inning.  Instead, they took a 3-3 ballgame 11 innings, blew out their bullpen and lost the game once reliever Michael Schwimer had gone 3 innings and his arm was ready to fall off.

There is always tomorrow, of course.  But that does not make this one suck any less.

Game 2 – Saturday, 1:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Doc Disassembled: Roller Coaster Game Ends in Disaster

After a 4-2 win over the Braves on Tuesday night, the Phillies felt good entering Wednesday’s game.  The offense was finally starting to score runs and they would have ace pitcher Roy Halladay on the mound.  Even better, they took a 6-0 lead into the 5th inning.

Placido Polanco just kept getting hits and Shane Victorino road his coat tails.  Then Laynce Nix smashed a bases-clearing, 3-run double in the 3rd.  Things were going very, very well.

Then the impossible happened…Halladay got hammered.  If you try saying out loud, “Halladay blew a 6-run lead,” it may actually seem like you are speaking Greek.  Add to that, “Halladay gave up 8 runs in less than two innings,” and you now have the equivalent of an extra-terrestrial language never before spoke on planet earth.

But that is exactly what happened.  The Braves disassembled the Doc like he was a faulty robot that short circuited.  The beating even included a Grand Slam, just to add a little more salt to the wound.  Ouch.

Halladay has not looked like his old self in a few games now and the questions about his health are bound to pile up like a mound of steaming dog poo.  Whatever is going on, it does not smell good.

If you think about the way the Phillies offense has played so far this year, just as unthinkable as Halladay getting hit for 8 runs is this team coming back after those 8 runs.

And yet, the temporary reassembly of this Phillies game began with a 3-run homer off the bat of Carlos Ruiz in the 7th inning.  Chooch was determined to get his pitcher off the hook, because in the 8th inning, he added 3 more runs with a bases-clearing double.  That gave him a total of 7 RBI on the night.  Insane.

With a 12-8 lead in the 8th, the insanity was not yet over.  As hard as Ruiz worked to get the Phillies ahead, the bullpen seemed to work just as hard to blow it.  By the time Jose Contreras was pulled, he had allowed a run and loaded the bases, thanks in part to a huge error by Jimmy Rollins.

Michael Schwimer came in to pitch and walked in a run on 4 pitches.  And of course, the next batter singled in 2 more runs to tie the game…again.  This time, it was 12-12.  But that did not last long.  Schwimer gave up a sac fly and Braves took a 13-12 lead.

You could not have scripted a weirder game.  And I could not have shouted any more cuss words at my TV.  Not because I could not think of any…because I lost my damn voice.  If you ever find yourself asking the question, “How do you blow a huge lead…multiple times?,” just watch a replay of this game.  Disgusting.

Think the Phillies had a second comeback in them?  Well, they did tie it up…again…13-13 in the 9th, sending the game to extra innings.  But relief pitcher Brian Sanches, on the roster for David Herndon who is on the DL, gave up a 2-run homer to Chipper Jones in the 11th.  The walk-off win for the Braves wasted the only solid offensive effort from the Phils all year.  Just sickening.

If you can stomach it, game 3 with the Braves starts early on Thursday at 12:10pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Offense Finally on a Roll…

In the last two games, the Phillies have scored a total of 15 runs.  Since the start of the season, it did not look like that sort of run production was ever going to happen.  But Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Diamondbacks may actually signal the awakening of this offense.

Cole Hamels certainly helped the situation with another great start, putting the Phillies in position to win.  Through 8 strong innings, Hamels allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits and struck out 7 batters.  He also lit things up at the plate with a 2-run single in the 6th inning.

This game was a real team effort, with everyone in the line-up contributing, even if it was just a sacrifice to move runners.  The biggest stand-out though was Placido Polanco who looked like the player of old.  He was on base after every at bat with 3 hits, 2 walks and an RBI.

Carlos Ruiz also had a 3-hit game and Hunter Pence collected 2 hits.  Now if the Phillies can just get Jimmy Rollins going, this might actually be a descent line-up again.

Thursday is an off-day with a 4-game home series beginning with the Cubs on Friday.  You know what the cure for a suffering offense is?  That’s right…the Cubs.  Cross your fingers…

Injury Updates:

As you may have heard, relief pitcher Mike Stutes is on the DL.  He has not looked the like the vibrant pitcher he was since about the final month of last season.  While this is concerning, his replacement, Michael Schwimer looked very sharp in Wednesday’s win.

As for Ryan Howard, he is still taking it easy.  But his wound is finally healing which means he may be able to start real baseball activity within the next week.

And my favorite topic of discussion, Chase Utley: Reportedly, Utley is feeling no knee pain while batting and some pain while fielding.  He took batting practice in Arizona with the team and many were encouraged by his swing.  However, here is a word of caution about all the optimism…

As a person with chronic knee issues, worse that what Utley has, I can tell you this; I also feel no pain while swinging a bat…ok, in my knees at least ;o)  The joint rotation does not bother me.  However, running and anything involving impact, like chasing ground balls, is a whole other story.

I have not been able to play serious baseball since I was 16 years old after blowing out both my knees.  But it was not because I could not still hit; it was because I could not run.  All these years later, I can still hit, but I still cannot run and never will.  Are you following my thought process here?

Granted, I have worse issues that Utley.  But my point is, yes, he looks good hitting.  But the real test will be impact movements, like running.  The fact that Utley still has some pain while fielding is not a good sign.  Running is generally more strenuous than fielding due to the repetition of the impact on the knees.  So if it is hard to field, running will only make that worse.

I am a huge Chase Utley fan and I would love nothing more than to see him get better and back to his old self.  However, all of this makes me very nervous.  If he comes back too early, he can do more damage to his knees.  But we all want him to come back sooner than later and I am sure he does as well.

So be optimistic; but be cautiously optimistic.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Spring Officially Kicks off with 3-Straight Phillies-Yankees Games

In the 1st of 3 games against the Yankees to start Spring Training, the Phillies dropped the game by a score of 8-5.  Cole Hamels started the game and tossed 2 innings, allowing 1 run.

The Yankees and their fans were salivating as Hamels pitched because Hamels could be a free agent after this year.  Hopefully, the Phillies will handle that issue before it comes down to a financial slug-fest with the Yanks.  Because we all know who wins that particular battle…

The first recorded RBI of spring came off the bat of Raul Ibanez…in a Yankees uniform.  The Phils will miss Ibanez’s personality in the clubhouse, but it was time to part and get a little younger in the outfield.  I wish Raul the best!

When watching early spring games, it can be hard to judge a players performance.  The games do not count, so wins and losses are just a meaningless statistic.  Veteran players are the most difficult to judge as they will use spring to get in shape and work on their technique.  So if a guys like Hamels, for example, gives up 5 runs, it does not mean much.  Maybe he is working on his grip, his delivery or trying out something new.  Spring is the time for veterans to  pace themselves, avoid injury and work out the kinks.

What you should really be looking at are the young guys and the players fighting for a roster spot.  This year, the Phillies have a number of battles brewing.  Both the bullpen and the bench have spots ready for the taking.

In the pen, watch for Dontrelle Willis, Justin DeFratus, Phillppe Aumont and Michael Schwimer, among others, to be vying for a spot on the big club.  Now, unlike the veterans, these are the guys who need to bring it every time they are out there.  It is all about who makes the biggest impression.

Willis pitched 1 inning yesterday and gave up a run on two hits.  Willis showed signs of the pitcher he used to be, but then also left his fastball up in the zone way too many times.  And there are plenty of younger guys standing by to try to knock him off.

As for the bench, Michael Martinez, who was here last year, now has a lot more competition to deal with.  Other utility guys like Scott Podsednik and Juan Pierre will be trying to make the team as well.  Podsednik is especially intriguing as he hit .304 and .297 in 2009 and 2010.  But he missed the 2011 season with a foot injury.  If he does well this spring and stays healthy, he has a shot to make the team as an extra outfielder.

This should be a very entertaining spring.

Game 2 with the Yankees today starts at 1:05pm today where we get our first look of the year at Roy Halladay in action!

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Award Season: Which Phillies Made the Grade So Far

Despite an early exit from the playoffs, the Phillies 102 regular season wins and stellar individual performances have earned some players much deserved honors.

Earlier this offseason, Placido Polanco was awarded a Gold Glove for his work at third base.  Polly also won the award playing second base for the Tigers in 2007 and 2009.  He and Darin Erstad are now the only two players in big league history to win a Gold Glove at multiple positions.

MLB.com also handed out awards on Monday.   Ryan Howard was named the club’s Player of the Year, while right-hander Roy Halladay was chosen the team’s Pitcher of the Year.  And rookie right-hander Vance Worley was voted the Breakout Player of the Year.

Not to be outdone, the Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America put its two cents in as well.  Center-fielder Shane Victorino was the winner of the Mike Schmidt Award  for Most Valuable Player and left-hander Cliff Lee received the Steve Carlton Award for Most Valuable pitcher.

The big awards come out next week which will include Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year and the Cy Young award.  It is expect that many Phillies will be considered for these top honors, but realistically, none of them will win.  Charlie Manuel is overlooked every year in the manager category; Worley will probably lose out to Freddie Freeman.  As for the Cy Young, both Halladay and Lee will probably get passed over in favor of Clayton Kershaw who had 21 wins and an almost invisible 2.28 ERA.

Of course, anything can happen.  But those are my predictions…how about you?  Leave your best guess in the comments and we will see who gets it right.

And if anyone missed it, here is my annual Phillies Photo Tribute slideshow.  Enjoy!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

2011 Phillies Photo Tribute

I just finished my yearly Phillies photo tribute!  I shot all of these photos during the 2011 season which include game photos, every player who was on the big league roster (even if for only a split second), a few alumni shots and other goodies.

The “For Fun” section is my favorite.  I collect funny shots throughout the year, like players with the giggles, guys sticking out their tongues, silly faces and lots more.  Do not worry, they are all family friendly.  The really fun ones I keep to myself ;o)

Enjoy!

 

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Roster in Place, the Phillies Are Ready for the NLDS

Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for a 5:07 start tonight.  Here is the post-season roster for the Phillies:

  • Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.
  • Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez.
  • Outfielders (6): Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., Ben Francisco and Ross Gload.
  • Pitchers (11): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton.
  • Extras: Infielder Pete Orr and Catcher Erik Kratz will travel with the team. RHP Justin De Fratus, LHP Joe Savery and outfielder Domonic Brown will work out in Clearwater, FL and Outfielders John Bowker and Brandon Moss and RHP Michael Schwimer have been sent home.

The only slightly interesting move here is that Blanton was chosen for the roster instead of David Herndon, despite missing most of the season with injuries.  The Phillies chose experience over a younger guy, even though Herndon was with the team most of the year.

As for the pitching match-ups in the series, here are the probable starters for the Phillies and Cardinals:

  • Game 1: Roy Halladay vs. Kyle Lohse (ex-Phillie)
  • Game 2: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Carpenter (on 3 days rest)
  • Game 3: Cole Hamels vs. Jaime Garcia

These are some odd moves by Tony LaRussa.  It will either turn out to be genius, or a huge mistake.  The Phillies should be able to handle Lohse and will then get Carpenter on short rest.  That is another situation they can probably take advantage of.

The pitcher the Phils have the most trouble with is Garcia, who was pushed back to Game 3 because his home numbers are much better than his road numbers.

This all seems to add up to a Phillies advantage, however, that remains to be seen.  Also of note, Game 2 has been pushed back to 8:37pm (ugh) on Sunday due to the Yankees – Tigers rain postponement.

I also wanted to share with you an article I just read about how Danys Baez has helped Antonio Bastardo out of his recent pitching funk.  Baez was released by the Phillies in July and was not picked up by another team.  He has been sitting at home in Miami watching and noticed Bastardo, a player he previously mentored, was having problems.  He reached out to Bastardo and helped him find the issues in his mechanics.

Bastardo has bounced back since then and it seems that Baez is the reason.  The story made me a little sad, thinking about how much criticism Baez took while he was in Philly from fans and media.  For him to swallow his pride and reach out to an ex-teammate like that is a sign of true character.  He may not have been the bullpen solution the Phillies hoped for, but he gets huge brownie points in my book for just being a great guy.

Hope to see you all at the game tonight!  Go Phillies!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

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